Girl Scouts praised for special efforts

MARLBORO — Brownie Girl Scouts in Marlboro received a very special thank you from a soldier who just returned from Iraq. He spoke with their troop and gave them special gifts that he brought home from overseas.

According to a press release from the Girl Scouts of the Jersey Shore, the troop of third grade students from the Asher Holmes Elementary School made the connection with Staff Sgt. Matthew Kryscnski’s company of the New Jersey National Guard early in the 2008-09 school year. They frequently sent care packages with cards, toiletries and various goodies including more than 160 boxes of Girl Scout cookies.

“I feel that we helped the soldiers with the things they needed,” said Julianna Fern, a member of Troop 1584.

To thank the troop, Kryscnski, a Howell resident, visited the girls at their school just before the end of the academic year and told them about his experiences in Iraq where he was part of New Jersey’s largest citizen deployment to a combat zone since World War II. While in Iraq, he received the Bronze Star while serving in the 2nd Platoon 50th Chemical Company of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the 42nd Infantry Division.

The packages he and his fellow soldiers received from home were always well received.

“It felt very good. It seemed like we were getting three or four packages a month from the girls,” he said. “It just amazed me how little girls and their families could do all this for us.

“These packages really helped,” he went on to say. “It makes a huge difference to know that someone is thinking of you. Some guys did not have any family sending them things. These packages and the cards the girls made helped all of us, but it especially helped them. Receiving the packages from home is a real morale lifter. It gets you through the tough times.”

Kryscnski, 28, presented the Girl Scout troop with a flag that was flown at the Forward Operating Base, Camp Bucca, Iraq. His platoon flew the flag in the girls’ honor for all they did to support their company.

He also presented each girl with a unit patch from his company, the 50th Chemical Company, for the back of their vests. The 50th Chemical Company is part of the 50th Infantry Brigade Combat Team.

“This is a very special honor for the girls to have received these patches,” explained Kryscnski’s cousin, Andrea, coleader of Troop 1584. “They will all place them on their newly earned Junior vests. This is extra special because the other things that they earned were on their Brownie vests, now they get to continue wearing the reminder of this special project.”

While their efforts seemed small, Kryscnski made sure the girls knew their connection made a significant difference.

“You may not realize it but you served; this was a cause greater than your own selves,” said the state trooper. “There are people in this country that take advantage of their freedoms and do nothing for them. There are adults that never do a thing to serve, but you are children and you did.”

During the visit one of the girls asked what Kryscnski would miss about being in the Army.

“I will miss the camaraderie between the soldiers. That’s what keeps me in – the brotherhood,” he explained. “When you serve in the military you create a strong bond between you (and other soldiers). It’s similar to the bond you girls have together as friends and as a troop. In the military, you know that you can depend on them with your life.”

After thanking Kryscnski for speaking with them, the Girl Scouts said this was a project they would remember for a long time.

“Helping others is good and gives you a good feeling,” said Alexa Steensen. “This helped us to be better people.”